This is a Skwawkbox edit of a guest post submitted by a Labour figure who asked to remain anonymous.
Asked by journalists last week whether he would proscribe – outlaw – Momentum, Keir Starmer responded equivocally:
That one is not for me.
Of course, that is neither a denial nor an indicator that it’s not an option – rather, the matter is on someone else’s to-do list. Indeed it’s been pushed for by right wingers for some time, although anyone who believes that such a decision wouldn’t have Starmer’s stamp on it might find a queue outside their door of people offering to sell them a bridge.
Why do the right want rid of Momentum? Because it supports Jeremy Corbyn or merely, in these days of guilt by the vaguest association being the norm, because their name starts with ‘M’ as Militant‘s did? And of course the added incentive that spurs these ‘purists’ on – we must all after all be, and if we’re not we must aspire to be, middle class – will be their relish in applying the ban retrospectively, expelling anyone who ever liked or quoted a Momentum tweet, which will be most who ever supported Corbyn.
The fact that such a ridiculous application is used in a party that, as his supporters never tire of regurgitating, is run by a so-called ‘human rights lawyer’ is bad enough, but no particular effort is needed to find examples, so much has the use of it mushroomed. Hours and hours will be spent by the right-wing faction scouring social media, meeting minutes and so on – or perhaps it will be farmed it out to shady sub-contractors who haven’t yet been busted by investigative journalists in other countries – for any vague connection whatsoever with those they want to tar as ‘other’.
The revolving door of expulsions is like an fair ground ride for the right – exhilarating but safe, because they know their media pals will always backstop for them.
But the wanton prescriptions so far haven’t provided the thousands and thousands of expulsions the right craved and publicly promised – simply because not many were signed-up members of those proscribed groups and those who had signed up were often not members of the Labour party anyway. And, as seen in the past, vast quantities of complaints to Labour had to be dismissed because those complained about weren’t members in the first place.
The right doesn’t let things like natural justice or legal principle stop them, so they’re not going to lose much sleep over wasted hours and the wasted resources of the Labour party when the payback is the opportunity for unkind and unfair treatment of others, justified in what passes for the right’s minds by an incontestable belief in their own righteousness – or by a sheer lack of interest in whether what they’re doing is right or fair in the first place.
That belief that is not open to debate, evidence or consideration of others. It simply is. In their own minds, anything they think is right and justified and nothing to the contrary is allowed to intrude – and they’ll skip happily on to the next method of industrialised expulsion – but Momentum is not their most immediate target, because if there’s anything the right like better than cosying up to corporates and imperial powers, it’s joining them in a nice war.
And it’s now well known in Labour’s top circles that the next proscription on the list is not momentum. It’s Stop the War (StW). Proscribing StW will deliver up Corbyn along with anyone who supported him, or even the last general election manifesto, that the right feels like targeting.
Riding on the back of the Ukraine-Russia war and the shameless propaganda of what used to be the UK media, Starmer’s ‘Labour’ is already poised. Already no dissent is allowed, with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper chiming in last week to climb up Starmer’s nether passage to say that there is no room in the party for anyone who will not accept the ‘new’ realities.
Ironic, given the right’s non-stop bleating that they were not being tolerated when the left was (however notionally) in charge.
Of course, most people not being keen to face nuclear annihilation, much of the public fears the escalation of war and the possibility of nuclear engagement – and would much prefer peace to the mass civilian casualties war will bring. But speaking on behalf of those rational millions is not allowed. Not now – nor even a whisper of the thought that negotiations must take place at some point (and indeed, short of the utter obliteration of the ‘enemy’, no war ever ended without it).
Last week was the anniversary of the STW march when two million stood up and shouted ‘No!’ to war in the Gulf – an event where speaker after speaker rightly predicted the turmoil and continued suffering that would result. The millions were ignored then, because people who crave power act like all the other power-cravers who came before them, ready to claim that war and death can be justified.
The current situation is a perfect opportunity for the power-hungry and those who can never have enough billions in the bank – and for those who have corrupted the Labour party on their behalf. Evidence will be found against those the apparatus wants out – and if it isn’t, then any past comment can and will be twisted beyond all recognition to serve instead of evidence. Those who stand against war and its consequences – death, poverty, subservience, homelessness, statelessness, refugees and more – will be vilified as ‘Putin apologists’, as many already have been.
Those running the Labour party and its blue section on the other side of the Commons don’t care that the people of Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere are still dying and suffering. That’s irrelevant to them compared to the priority of preserving the status quo and making sure power and wealth continue to be held by those with power and wealth now.
Corbyn and all that stood with him and shared a different set of principles and a desire for a better, fairer world – but to the right they are just inconveniences to be removed or crushed.
There is no scope for different opinions. Dissenting views must be silenced and the prospect of real, meaningful change ended. Misinformation and outright lies are key tools to silence that dissent and turn the people against dissenters. In the approved world view, all those who stand against war are commie subversives and McCarthy’s only fault was in not going far, fast or hard enough.
Videos and other media are circulating of protest, as they always do after the STW marches and speeches. Imagine the hours that will be spent trawling those videos, photographs and leaflets trying to identify who was there, when the Labour right yet again start retrospectively applying their new proscription.
The peace movement is about to be othered even more than ever before. Freedom to hold politics of peace and justice is at greater risk now in the UK than it ever has been. Stop the War looks like being the next casualty of the information war against that freedom – and with a major anti-Starmer, anti-war demo taking place in London next weekend, don’t be surprised if the purge is underway very soon.
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